Only four per cent of the ocean is protected: Sea Around Us research

Small Island

Photo by: Azrul Aziz

Despite global efforts to increase the area of the ocean that is protected, only four per cent of it lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to new research.

Sea Around Us scientists Lisa Boonzaier and Daniel Pauly found that major swaths of the ocean must still be protected to reach even the most basic global targets.

In 2010, representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Nagoya, Japan, and adopted the United Nations’ Aichi Targets, in a bid to stem the rapid loss of biodiversity. The countries committed to protecting at least 10 per cent of the ocean by 2020.

“The targets call for much more than just 10 per cent protection,” said lead author Ms. Boonzaier. “They require that protected areas be effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected, all of which will help to ensure that MPAs contribute to more than percentage targets and meet the goal of conserving biodiversity.”

In the past decade, however, some improvement has been made. In 2006, only an estimated 0.65 percent of the ocean was protected.

“Given the creation of very large marine protected areas in recent years, notably though the Global Ocean Legacy Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, there is a chance that the Aichi Targets can be reached, which would be a major achievement,” said  Daniel Pauly, co-author of the paper and director of the Sea Around Us.

The research is published in the journal Oryx.

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